The draft is a great time of the year for players, management, and fans. New players come into the league each bringing their own unique style and personality. Leagues thrive on bringing in new talented players in order to make the league more competitive. This year for the CWHL draft will be no different. Erin Ambrose, Sarah Lefort, Iya Gavrilova, Hayley Williams, etc. are all talented players in their own right who will become big names in the league sooner rather than later.
With five teams in the CWHL the players mentioned above are very important because of the multiple positions available at forward and defense. With goaltending it’s a different story. Five teams in the league means there’s only 10 spots available in net. Looking around the league you can say that every starting position is secure. That then leaves the five back-up positions around the league available. A closer look though shows us that Brampton has two starting level goalies in Liz Knox and Erica Howe. That’s now only four spots available.
The management of each respective CWHL team will have done the math as well. Just like in the NHL and NWHL drafts there will be very few goalies taken because of the lack of room for them in the league. In fact only four goalies were taken in the past CWHL draft, the earliest being in round 6. It’s an uphill battle but there are three goalies ready to take on the challenge for this CWHL draft. Three goalies that can push for positions within the CWHL either this season or next.
Emerance Maschmeyer (Harvard University)
A goalie hasn’t gone first overall in the CWHL since the 2012 draft and Hillary Pattenden (who didn’t play a single CWHL game) was taken by the (now) Calgary Inferno. Despite whatever happened after Pattenden was drafted she deserved her 1st overall position after a remarkable NCAA career. Going into the 2016 CWHL Draft it’s hard to imagine Krista Patronick (Blades GM) being scared away from Emerance Maschmeyer at all.
This isn’t the easiest decision to make though. Erin Ambrose is a fantastic player herself with National Team experience and a NCAA championship under her belt. Ambrose is highly thought of in the NCAA and is highly thought of in general. Erin Ambrose is capable to joining any team and immediately becoming their top defender. With the way the game is played today you want mobility and puck movement on the back end which Ambrose gives you.
It takes a home run pick to beat out Erin Ambrose in this draft and Emerance Maschmeyer is that home run pick. It’s not every draft that you have a chance to add to your roster the 5th best player at their position in the world and Maschmeyer is the 5th best goalie in women’s hockey right now. That’s not simple praise either as Maschmeyer is in a group that features Meeri Raisanen and Florence Schelling.
What makes Maschmeyer an even more attractive pick is that she’s only 21 years old. In goalie development terms she’s just started on the way up to her prime. Bringing Maschmeyer in to Boston doesn’t just mean that you’re adding a Top 5 Goalie; it means you’re adding a potential Top 3 goalie in the world and a chance to make the Blades Clarkson Cup winners again.
It feels odd to say that the Blades need a goalie when they have one of high quality in Genevieve Lacasse. For Lacasse her future in Boston isn’t set in stone. There are no long term contracts in the CWHL and no guarantees that the player won’t retire early. It’s important for Boston to secure a goalie that will ensure no matter what decision Lacasse makes the Boston net will be defended by one of the best possible who in this case is Emerance Maschmeyer.
While I believe Boston should and will draft Maschmeyer, no matter which team does grab her Maschmeyer will become one of the best players on that team. She has the Hockey IQ, the passion, skill, speed and the competitiveness to put her over the top. Maschmeyer is a legitimate contender for Goalie of the Year in the CWHL along with nearly every other award possible. Now she does still need a team in front of her. Patronick’s job will be to build a team around Maschmeyer/Lacasse and it doesn’t need to be the star studded roster of Les Canadiennes or the Inferno. Adding Maschmeyer to an average team will push them into contender status.
If you want a more in depth look at Maschmeyer take a look at the profile I did on her for the Top 10 Goalies in Women’s Hockey rankings.
Amanda Makela (Buffalo Beauts)
It’s not very often that you manage to draft a player with pro experience into the CWHL. It’s one thing to be pro-ready such as Erin Ambrose or Emerance Maschmeyer. To actually have the experience of dealing with the challenges of pro hockey is rare. The CWHL is one of (if not the) best pro women’s hockey leagues in the world. The level of competition and quality is only matched by the NWHL. So bringing in a player from the NWHL means you have a player that can jump in immediately with a small adjustment period which is helpful due to the restraints on players’ time.
Amanda Makela isn’t just a goalie with pro experience though. When Makela is drafted she’ll be bringing skill to that organization. On the ice Makela delivers results. Her time with the Beauts wasn’t ground breaking however she’s had a distinguished career at Mercyhurst University. In her last season at Mercyhurst Makela put up 20 wins, a 1.44 goals against average, 0.924SV% and tied a Mercyhurst record with 8 shutouts in a season. The cherry on top of Makela’s last year in the NCAA was being named the CHA Goalie of the Year.
As described above it’s difficult to say the least for a goalie to break into the CWHL. If you’ve ever read up on the Original Six era in the NHL it’s the same situation here. Nearly every goalie has shown to be high end starters for their team. This can be a problem because goalies such as Makela were starters in their previous league. Ask any goalie and they’ll tell you getting their workload cut down significantly (+30 games to >10 games) is a challenge. You need to possess a strong mental game in order to deal with this type of challenge or your game will slip away.
Amanda Makela has developed a strong mental game. She understands that she might not get the majority of the starts. So for Makela she can go weeks without starting then come in either in relief of the starting goalie or start a game once every few weeks and not miss a beat. It’s difficult to perform at a high level when you don’t have a consistent routine. Makela though has shown she can work through it which will make her an attractive draft pick to a GM who appreciates a goalie who understands their role yet has the potential of taking the starters position.
I generally try and stay away from guessing because I’m terrible at it. I’ll take a stab at where Makela ends up because I have a 20% chance of being right. Seeing as Makela lives close to the GTA that makes her likely to end up on either Toronto or Brampton. The Brampton Thunder are already set in net with Liz Knox and Erica Howe. This leaves the Toronto Furies as the team where I believe Amanda Makela will end up playing.
Kelly Campbell (University of Western Ontario)
In this article I’ve covered a NCAA goalie and a NWHL goalie. For the third and final goalie in this article I get to talk about a goalie whose actually playing in Canada before being drafted, University of Western Ontario goalie Kelly Campbell. There’s a good chance that Kelly Campbell ends up being the surprise value pick of the draft in a year or so. The CIS is an underrated and often under-scouted league. There are quality athletes in the CIS and Kelly Campbell is one of them.
It’s not that Kelly Campbell wasn’t skilled enough to play for a NCAA; it was her choice to stay close to home and earn an education to become a commercial pilot. While learning to pilot a plane, Kelly Campbell became a driving force behind a strong women’s hockey team that would eventually go on in the 2014/15 season to earn their first CIS Championship in UWO history. In fact during the CIS tournament that would decide the ultimate winner Kelly Campbell only allowed one goal in the entire tourney which led to her being named the tournament MVP.
Maybe it’s her pilot mentality that gives Campbell the ability to play in high pressure games or maybe she’s just naturally gifted in that department. Whatever the case may be there’s no doubt that Kelly Campbell has ice running through her veins. UWO Head Coach Chris Higgins attributes the 2014/15 season almost completely to Campbell. Kelly Campbell allows her team to adjust in games. The first period will see the Mustangs on their heels, Campbell will shut down the opposing team, then Campbell’s Mustangs will go and grab the lead.
Campbell fits the description of a diamond in the rough draft pick. Playing in an underrated league, facing lots of action, dealing with pressure along with challenges and showing that they can rise to the occasion is what makes scouts/GM’s excited about the later rounds of the draft. As mentioned before though the CWHL is in its “Original Six (or five I guess)” phase which means that Campbell doesn’t have an easy path to becoming a starting goalie in the CWHL. This one last challenge though could be what Campbell needs to help make her become a better goalie. Whichever team drafts Campbell should be looking at her as the heir to the crease.
Which team that will be though is anyone's guess. Campbell is closet to the GTA however as mentioned before the Brampton Thunder are set at goalie so that once again leaves the Toronto Furies. Situations change though and are volatile in women's hockey. By the time training camp starts who knows what openings there are.
Thank you for reading about these three goalies. Of course there are more than just these three goalies available for the 2016 CWHL Draft. These three though in my eyes are the Top 3 available and the best bets at getting a roster spot for the coming season. It’s completely possible that another goalie drafted this year takes a hold of the reins and turns into a surprise starter. I’m looking forward to the draft and so should you.